I am in the middle of my second week of my first Fulbright Specialist visit working at Korea University (KU) in Seoul, so I wanted to drop a quick note to update the college and its supporters on how things are going. I have been on the other side of jetlag for several days now, have a routine going, and enjoy coming to the office each day.
The weather last week was downright cold. It snowed here last Wednesday. Since this last Sunday, however, it has been in the low- to mid-60s and is projected to be this way for the remainder of my stay. With the improvement in the weather, students are out late, and the energy among students is high.
Koreans love their coffee! There are many local coffeehouses near campus. All of this is in addition to coffeehouses on the KU campus, as well as a couple of Starbucks close by. And the coffee is good at these places! I’ve tried several of them.
Koreans refer to the SKY universities as being the most desirable universities in Korea. SKY stands for Seoul National University, Korea University, and Yonsei University. KU also has a strong international initiative and has many students from different countries throughout the world. I met with the associate dean for research the other day to explore student exchanges. I will have lunch with the dean on Friday to discuss these possibilities further.
The work I am doing deals with the idea of school counseling as a means to address student issues that plague schools throughout the world. The increasing global awareness of school counseling as a means to address these issues is really interesting to me. There are many countries who have recently established professional school counselors in their schools or countries that are seriously considering this implementation. While the roles, definitions, training, and skills differ from country to country, all are have a singular purpose: to support educators and families address personal issues students face so that they can focus on their education.
Korea has made a major investment in school counselors and is positioned to become a global leader in addressing student issues as they have also implemented what they refer to as WEE centers (We education + We emotion) in school districts in Korea. The centers are staffed with school counselors, mental health counselors, social workers, and clinical psychologists. My collaborator and I toured a WEE center last week. It was most impressive. We think other countries will be interested the WEE center concept and want to implement something similar.
I am working with my collaborator, other faculty, and graduate students. The policy research and program evaluation work we are developing as a research team is faculty work that I am thoroughly enjoying. It is wonderful to be on the beautiful KU campus, full of bright and energetic students and faculty.
I have attended a baseball game with faculty and students. The game was the season opener for the Dooson Bears. They were playing at home and many of the graduate students with whom I attended were pulling for Dooson. But in the end, they unfortunately lost to the Samsung Lions.
I also had dinner with a new colleague at a restaurant that overlooks the Han River, the main river that runs through Seoul. It is easily the width of the Columbia River and is stunning in its beauty and grandeur.
The people here at KU are very supportive and have made my stay in Seoul comfortable and one that I will remember with fondness. The hospitality is second to none.
The only way to fully describe the experience is that it is all a privilege.
Fulbright Specialist Communication Disclaimer
This blog does not reflect the views of the U.S. Government, Department of State, or any affiliated organization. The views are solely those of the author, Mike Trevisan.